Analyzing Stylistic Patterning in Film to Establish the Cinematographer as a Coauthor: A Case Study of Gregg Toland

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Author: Philip Cowan
Date: Summer 2017
Publisher: Berghahn Books, Inc.
Document Type: Case study
Length: 8,589 words
Lexile Measure: 1270L

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Abstract :

Can the authorial contribution of the individual cinematographer to classical, narrative-based film be identified and attributed? This article addresses this specific question, but the specific case of the cinematographer must acknowledge the wider debates about film authorship. The article examines contemporary attitudes to coauthorship in film, highlighting the fact that, in terms of cinematography, most commentators still defer to directors when discussing the creation of meaning within images. While examining the works of Gregg Toland and William Wyler, the article evaluates authorial attribution by means of a comparison between the films they made together and the films they made separately. In order to do this, the article defines a method for establishing authorship within the film image. Toland is a prime historical example of a cinematographer whose authorial contribution has been severely underestimated in the pursuit of glorifying the directors he worked with (Orson Welles, John Ford, and William Wyler). Keywords: Andre Bazin, The Best Years of Our Lives, cinematography, film authorship, Gregg Toland, Orson Welles, William Wyler

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A536142510